He repeated his 1993 major championship victory with a closing 68 on Sunday, June 21, for a level par 280 total, and again he left Payne Stewart the runner-up, one stroke too many after fading to a final round 74.
Lee Westwood, a winner in America this year and currently heading the Volvo Ranking after two consecutive European Tour victories, emerged as Europe’s top challenger with a share of 7th place.
Starting the final 18 holes in front by four shots from Tom Lehman and Bob Tway, and five ahead of Nick Price and Janzen, all winners of majors, Stewart had led from day one with scores of 66, 71 and 70. It was, he agreed, his Open to win. But the experienced 41-year-old 1991 US Open champion hit only six of the narrow fairways and nine greens in regulation to allow Janzen to stage his remarkable comeback.
After bogeys at the second and third holes Janzen’s title hopes seemed doomed. Then a large helping of good fortune at the fifth revived his challenge. He was on his way back to the tee to hit another drive after his first had left the ball perched high in a cypress tree. Then a sudden gust of wind brought it to earth. And when he eventually chipped in from 20 feet for a remarkable par four the feeling that it might be his day after all was born.
Afterwards he admitted thinking: “This just isn’t right. I just made a birdie at the fourth to turn it around , now I’ll be lucky to take a double bogey.”
Out in 35, Janzen still trailed by three, but he wiped out the gap with birdies at the 11th and 13th against an unlucky bogey at the 12th for Stewart whose perfect drive finished in a sand-filled divot. “ I hit the fairway but it was in a bunker,” he lamented. It didn’t please him either to be handed a slow play warning for pondering over how to cope with his misfortune. Then the long 16th cost him another dropped shot with an untidy, bunker-troubled six, and Stewart fell behind by the stroke that was to cost him defeat.
He finished with a four-over-par 74 for 281 and credited the 6,797 yards Olympic course being as much a winner as Janzen. “Only one player shot even par. It lived up to its reputation. I didn’t play well enough to win and I got beat by an outstanding golfer.”
An emotional Janzen, who hit 12 fairways and 14 greens on the pressure-crammed final day, rejoiced: “Winning the US Open, that’s the pinnacle for me. To win the trophy I wanted more than any other for the second time was too much. I feel extremely lucky.”
Westwood finished with 71 for 287 worth US$83,591. The next best European was Jesper Parnevik , tied 14th on 289, while Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, answering the distractions of a few rowdy spectators with grim determination, saved his best for last, a closing 69 for 290 giving him a share of 18th place alongside José Maria Olazábal.